Posted in Personal, Rant, taekwondo, Uncategorized

Growing

3 weeks ago I went on a taekwondo summer camp with a bunch of amazing people. A lot of things happened that weekend! First of all, I had my third belt graduation and successfully earned myself a new belt! Hello Orange!

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The night I got my diploma!

And then the next day I did actual 겨루기 (kyorugi) which is the sparring/fighting part of taekwondo. Obviously we practice the techniques and such but we don’t do a lot of 겨루기 in our normal practice sessions (unless you are around a red belt or up – at that point 겨루기 becomes a part of your future promotions) so it was super new to me. We practiced a few techniques and then a few people got to try them out in an actual fight. I have always been absolutely terrified of the thought of fighting someone else, so imagine my surprise when my hand flew up in response to our coaches request for volunteers. Well.. ^^; I really have no idea what happened. Maybe I was feeling a bit more confident due to my new belt, or maybe something inside me just knew that I really needed to challenge myself. Who knows?
I was sparring with a girl who was used to sparring so I quickly had to change my tactic and focus on defending. I got 0 points and she got 2, but we were supposed to keep on till 3 points had been achieved. However I ended up defending myself well enough so that she couldn’t get the final point and the fight had to be stopped because the time ran out. That still makes her the winner, but I felt strong and completely invincible! Sort of funny since I had just lost my first fight, huh?

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Technique practice before fight!

 

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Halfway through belt test!

Those things has already turned into fond memories however, something way .. bigger? .. more interesting? happened. I don’t really know what to call it yet. Whatever it is, it certainly sparked a bunch of thoughts and emotions within me.
As some of you guys already know, our club  – and sister clubs – all have a Korean Grand Master, living in Germany. I had met him twice before summer camp. I met him briefly at the dan promotion back in September and again in March when we had our annual Easter trip to his Dojang in Hamburg. Back in March I had decided that I was going to challenge myself and actually talk to him. He doesn’t speak Danish nor English, and his German skills are not too great either. I don’t speak German at all so if we were to talk, it would only be in Korean, which – as you all know – is not at all new to me.
When we were having dinner back then, he sat down next to me and while I was trying to gather some courage, his family joined him and they started chatting away in Korean SO FREAKING FAST and with the thickest Busan dialect I have heard in a long time. In the end I just sat there with my, not at all charming, 멍 face. Nope. I was so not going to try and join that conversation! I did thank his wife for the food in Korean though, but then she got so shocked that I for a moment thought I had broken her, and I ended up just smiling awkwardly and then practically ran out of the room. Great. It was just great.

As you can probably imagine, I had absolutely no intentions of talking to him and making a fool out of myself this time either, however I forgot to take something quite important into consideration. You see, back then only a handful of my taekwondo friends knew about my language skills, and it has since then become known among them all..
Saturday evening was our last evening together, it was they day where we had the most lessons and also the day of our successful belt promotion so everybody was having fun and relaxing together. Master Shin and his wife had brought a karaoke machine and people were singing, dancing, yelling, laughing and getting more than just a little tipsy. I was sitting with my friends and coaches who were talking to Master Shin, when one of my coaches suddenly turned around and asked me if I wanted to speak in Korean with Master Shin, and before I had a chance to decline the ‘offer’ my other coach was telling Master Shin about my Korean abilities.
It happened so freaking fast and I quickly turned into Master Shins favorite person. I was quickly asked to switch places with my coach and he then called over his wife to talk to me as well. He was talking so fast and even though his dialect was way lighter when talking to me, I still had to focus 100% on understanding what he was telling me. He also talks A LOT. That’s kinda an inside joke among the clubs, but it only made it ‘worse’ when he was able to speak comfortably in Korean. I asked him when they had moved to Germany and he started telling me about where he grew up, what university he had graduated from and about a funny friend of his who has become very wealthy. He never answered my question though ^^’ He asked me to sing a Korean song which I politely but very strongly passed up on. Every time he and his wife had to do something or went to sing a song, they would instantly circle right back to me, and it quickly gained interest from the 150 other people who were present. They were all staring at us and talking about us with the biggest fascination I have seen in a very long time. I didn’t know most of them and I couldn’t really process the situation because I had to focus all of my energy into understanding the conversation.
A few hours into the conversation he suddenly got out his wallet and took out a business card. It was old and wrinkly so he started to smooth it out on the table until his wife found a prettier one. He then gave the pretty to me and asked me to write down my contact information on the other one. He explained that he would love for me to help him translate in the future, at these taekwondo events. He also told me about a bunch of Korean companies in Germany that he could connect me to if I wished to work with them in the future.

Shin´s Family Summer Camp 2018 DELING_00259
Here’s Master Shin on one of his super long explanations, while my coach is stuck in this great pose while trying to translate into Danish, haha!

Going to bed in my tiny little pink tent that night, I couldn’t sleep despite being completely drained. I was trying to process all of my thoughts and emotions but all I felt was panic. I was fine when I didn’t have time to think about the situation but now that I was all alone I instantly doubted myself and I felt like crying. I almost called my boyfriend despite it being way past midnight, because I suddenly felt like the most stupid person in the world and I needed someone to tell me that it wasn’t true.
The thing is, I have never been super confident about any of my skills, but I have been  working a lot on that and it has been a really long time since I have felt that insecure and it really caught me by surprise.
I was cursing at myself for having agreed to help, and for giving him my contact information. I mean, who the hell do I think I am?! I can’t interpret. I’m not good enough. I keep thinking about myself as a TOPIK level 4, but the truth is that I haven’t actually passed that grade yet. I could fail. And even if I don’t, a level 4 is still no where near a level 6 which would be way better for him. I’m going to mess everything up. He’ll meet me next time with big expectations and become disappointed because I haven’t improved since the last time. Or he’ll ask me me to translate something and I wont understand and I’ll just stand there in front of everyone like an idiot.
Also, I don’t network. I can’t. I’m a super awkward person and I suck at being social. I can’t network with companies! I mean god, I don’t even know what I want to do with my life yet. What the hell is wrong with me?

It suddenly turned into a depressing post, huh?
In the end I kept all these worries to myself. I joked to my friends and my coaches about going home and focusing my studies even more now, but I felt really worried. My boyfriend sensed that something was off but I insisted that I was just tired. For the next week I studied like crazy and got N.O.T.H.I.N.G out of it. I couldn’t focus at all and I didn’t absorb anything that I read. My study tracker looked great but I can’t remember a single thing from that entire week. Time spent on studying doesn’t equal progress.
As the week had passed and we gathered at my regular Dojang, we all got diplomas for passing the test and talked about our favorite parts of the weekend while sharing everything with those who weren’t able to join us on camp.
When it was my turn I got my diploma, talked a bit about my favorite moments and then went to sit back down, when my main coach stopped me and said “Something else also happened, right? Would you like to tell everybody or can I do it?”. I knew he was talking about my conversation with Master Shin, so I started explaining and my coach kept adding to the story.
This is basically where everything changed. My coach was eagerly telling my story from his point of view, everybody who was at the camp started talking to those who hadn’t been there “It was so cool, she just sat there and talked to him in Korean like it was the most normal thing in the entire world…”, “Frau Shin looked so happy when they talked about her homemade Kimchi”.
Everybody was so fascinated. It was such a new thing to them. I felt a bit lighter seeing everybody so happy and excited and then my coach added something that really touched my heart. He said that he had known Master Shin for more than 25 years and in all that time he had never ever seen him or his wife so relaxed and open. As I mentioned before, Master Shin talks a lot. However, he only talks if he has a purpose (which is usually explaining something about taekwondo, the human body or our minds). Probably because communication is tricky when he isn’t that good at German, and doesn’t have any other language in common with everybody else. My coach said that it was incredibly touching to see him relaxed like that. He then lastly added, that our little Dojang had gotten some serious bonus points from Master Shin, thanks to me.
It made me realize how incredibly lucky I am. I got to see a side of Master Shin that nobody else get to. I got to hear about his childhood, and I got to listen to him bickering with his wife about the wrinkly business card, while nobody else had any idea what was going on.
It also made me realize that I’m not going to disappoint anyone. I talked to him almost nonstop for 4 hours. He knows exactly what my skills are. Sure, he’ll probably expect me to improve till I see him again. And I will.
I also wont disappoint my coaches. To them, this has already been an incredible experience. Also, they all cheer me on! They ask how my exam preparations are coming along and they all listen even when I get carried away and talk about it for way too long.

I don’t know where all of this will take me. I might end up doing a lot of translation/interpretation work in the future, or I might never. I might end up networking my way into some company or I might not. I truly have no idea. All I know is that I didn’t come this far by freaking out and running away.
I might face some difficulties and I’ll need a different focus during my study sessions, but I’m going to do my absolute best and I wont let any self doubt drag me down that hole again.
This is all about growing.

So here we go. I’m going to rock this!

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I would do this all over again!^^
Posted in Personal, Rant, Selfstudy, taekwondo, Uncategorized

Pronunciation fears

I have been having a few fears related to pronunciation lately. I have always considered correct pronunciation as one of the most important things when speaking in a foreign language – I mean what is the point of knowing a bunch of grammar rules and fancy words, if nobody understands you when you try using them? I still have a lot to work on but I consider my pronunciation decent enough to get by without too many struggles. However after I started doing Taekwondo, I have been having some serious  issues and minor mental breakdowns.

Everyone in my club is Danish hence they all speak Korean with Danish accent. A very strong Danish accent. This isn’t really a problem in itself, however because everybody in the club (with me as the exception) has just about no knowledge about the Korean language itself, it becomes a problem. Everything is learned through Romanized Korean. This is the big issue because it makes the pronunciation way more complicated. Also the romanizations are usually based on English pronunciation which isn’t the same at the Danish one. When 장 is written as Jang, it only ‘works’ because of the English ‘J’ sound. With the Danish ‘J’ sound 장 suddenly become 양.  Because of that we have people saying both 장 and 양, and even 챵, even though they are all talking about the very same thing. New members without any Korean knowledge obviously struggle with these things, as they have no idea how to pronounce it correctly and they keep hearing the same word with a changing pronunciation.
It makes it really difficult for me at times too, when they tell me something very basic, but pronounce it so differently that I simply can’t recognize the words.

Also when I try to look up things at home, it sometimes causes quite the trouble. When I first joined the club, everybody was talking about 타이코 1양  and 타이코 2양. I tried looking this up when I got home so that I could practice and improve for the next session (Since I started out of the ‘new members season’ I was the only one who knew nothing. I wanted to improve fast in order to not slow everybody down. I thought my Korean skills would be an advantage but it didn’t quite end up that way.) but that turned out to be a bit more difficult than so. Why? Because 타이코 1양 is actually 태극 1장. Not. The. Same. At. All. I don’t even know how 태극 ended up being pronounced as 타이코!
These are the moments where I really hate the romanizations!

I’m also the only one in the club who pronounce Taekwondo as 태권도 and not 타이권도. Makes me feel like a real know-it-all nit-picky douche, haha!

A while ago some of the members were talking about the struggles they had in Germany. In Germany we have a Korean Grand Master who takes part in all of our belt promotions, and whenever he is the person to give out orders, nobody understands him, because he is pronouncing everything correctly. Ah the irony.. I face that very same problem. When asking a question about a certain kick or defending block, I pronounce it correctly and the coaches are struggling to understand what I’m talking about.

This leads me to my actual fear.. I love doing Taekwondo and I want to improve. I also love the Korean language and I find it hard to teach myself wrong or improper things. Until now I have been kinda blocking out all the names for the stands, blocks and so on, and completely been avoiding to say them out loud, which now means that I can’t really remember any of the names. This is something that I need to know in order to continue improving and obviously that puts me in quite the dilemma.

What if my usual Korean pronunciation starts to become bad or weird because I’m practicing it incorrectly during Taekwondo practice?
I don’t want that to happen. But I want to continue growing and improving in my Taekwondo journey..

I guess it’s no different from Konglish.. My English skills are not getting worse even though I pronounce words the Korean way. And I doesn’t confuse me either..
So what’s the difference? Maybe it’s because English feels like my native language and Korean is still so far from that.

In that case I guess the solution is to study harder.
Study Korean harder and study Taekwondo terminology harder.
What about you guys? Do you have any similar issues?
Any advice? Do share. 🙂

Posted in Personal, taekwondo, Uncategorized

Getting my butt kicked

Thursday was a rough but interesting day for me. After a crazy long day of work I drove towards a small town called Kolind where I was going to take part in my very first Taekwondo practice! I was incredibly nervous and NOTHING went as it was supposed to. Do you guys ever experience such days? Days where you have every single detail planned and still everything somehow fails you?
Well Thursday was that kind of day..
I was hoping that my first practice would help me release all the stress and tension from work that day, but things started going south as soon as I left the house. I ended up driving behind a slow moving vehicle for a really long time which meant that my schedule didn’t work out as planned. I was supposed to arrive 6.40PM, change into my workout clothes and then be ready to join the practice at 7PM. But because of the slow moving vehicle I arrived at 7.50PM instead and just to make things even worse, the front door turned out to be locked and I had no idea how to get in.. Sigh.. After a few minutes of trying to figure out what on earth I was going to do, a woman in a Dobok saw me standing there all confused, and opened the door from inside the building. OK! So far so good! But at this point I only had 4 minutes left before the practice started so I had to choose between changing my clothes and therefor being late, or being on time but train in normal jeans and a tank top.. I was told beforehand to come in clothes that where easy to move around in, so both options pretty much made me feel like an idiot ^^;;
At this point my anxiety starting freaking out (which I totally should have seen coming, but somehow didn’t) and I knew that if I didn’t follow the woman who had helped me in, then I would just turn around and go home instead. So I walk into the practice room all alone, not knowing a single person inside, as the only person dressed in black, in a room full of white Doboks. ^^;; Great. I have never felt that shy and awkward in my entire life. Hahaha.. Just thinking about it know makes me want to hide in a hole somewhere.
Anyway.. Of course the story and embarrassment doesn’t end here.. No, that would have been too easy, right?
Let me just quickly explain something. The club doesn’t have any beginners teams until fall, so I am literally the only one there who has no idea what’s going on and what to do. Everybody was really kind and helped me out when they could, and kept reminding me that everybody had started from zero at some point. They told me to just relax, try to follow along but not to the point where I might hurt myself. While this did indeed make me feel better, I still felt a lot of pressure. Obviously I don’t want to slow everybody down just because everything needed to be explained to me, so in the end I went into my focus mode and did everything I could to pay attention and keep up with everybody else.

That worked out perfectly for the first 15 minutes and then
RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIPPPP!!!
…. That my dear friends, was the sound of my jeans ripping in front of everybody.. ^^;;
Great. Super great. ^^;;

Do you know that feeling where something super embarrassing happens and you feel like it will become even more embarrassing if you acknowledge that it happened? Yeah, that’s how I felt.. And that’s how I ended up practicing for another 1,5 hours with ripped pants.. Yeah.. Fun fun ^^;;

Anyway, if we just forget about all those struggles, I actually ended up having a great time! It was really interesting to hear so many Korean words over and over again. Though I do have some issues understanding most of what is being said due to the strong Danish pronunciation!
Also! Everybody on the team had to count to ten in Korean, one by one, during warm-ups and I was the last one (because I was the youngest of the white belts) but just as I was about to begin, the 사부님 said ‘Since you don’t know how to count yet, we’ll just skip you for now’. I thought about telling him that I’m actually quite confident when it comes to counting in Korean, but I decided that it probably would be best not to disturb the flow of the warm-up. Also I felt like I had already had more than enough of the spotlight for me to handle on one day, hahaha!
I managed to keep up with most of the exercises and got a lot of compliments for my kicks, which made me really excited. There so much to learn and I’m feeling pretty optimistic so far!
I was exhausted and completely free from stress once the practice was over and I drove home with a really nice buzz in my entire body. I was so sore the days after and even now I can still feel it in my shoulders. I’m quite happy about how things turned out – in the end at least.
I’m really looking forward to my next practice, which is tomorrow! This time though, I’ll be changing my clothes  before I leave from home…… ^^;

Posted in Personal, taekwondo, Uncategorized

A day of accomplishments

Today has been such an insanely busy day, and not much ended out as I had planned it. I guess that isn’t really anything new, haha!

Early this morning I took my written drivers licence test, which I was supposed to take over a month ago. Sadly though, an administrative mistake happened and I ended up having to wait until now – without any theoretical of practical driving lessons. This has been causing me so much stress since driving well doesn’t come naturally to me and putting everything on pause like that for a month, meant that I lost the almost non-existing confidence I had in my driving skills.
Anyway, I finally took the test this morning and passed without much difficulty – Yay! This means that I am now one step closer to finishing this whole drivers licence process (So many hours that will soon be available in my daily schedule! Not to mention all the time that I will save when I no longer have to take the bus!), as well as a step closer to being able to join ‘my’ Taekwondo class!

When I got home I had a ton of boring things to do before my italki lesson with 효진쌤. We haven’t had a lesson together in two months because of schedule conflicts, and I was really looking forward to seeing her again. She’s a lot of fun!
I ran around like crazy to get everything done, and then just a few minutes before the lesson, my driving instructor called and wanted to have a driving lesson with me immediately after my italki lesson. Sigh.. I was terrified since it had been so long since I had a driving lesson, but I knew it would only get worse if I waited so I agreed, and just like that the rest of my day became busy.I’m really proud of myself for not postponing and it looks like I might take the final driving test withing 2-3 weeks. Exciting and horrifying!

When I finally got home, I ate dinner and sat down to confirm the italki lesson from earlier, since I hadn’t had time when it ended, and then I noticed this!
Turns out today’s lesson was my 100th lesson through italki! If that isn’t an accomplishment then I don’t know what is!
italki100

Even though I hope that tomorrow will be less hectic, I’m still pretty happy with the results from today! Now It’s time to go to bed and start on a fresh note tomorrow. If things go as planned then I will be able to study a lot tomorrow! Just what I need after a stressful day!

Oh, and I still haven’t completely decided what to do about the italki language challenge, but I think I will take part in it this year too!

Posted in Personal, taekwondo, Uncategorized

Who would’ve thought

Lately I have been very aware of all the things in my life that are precious to me. That usually happens this time of the year, however this year it seems that the majority of these precious things are related to my language learning journey, in one way or another.
Through my Korean studies I have met a whole bunch of amazing people that I would now hate to be without. I have met people through language exchange, through italki teachers, through this blog as well as through fellow students. I went on a trip to London and made a ton of great memories. I took chances I never thought I would even consider taking and I have learned about a new culture and a new way of thinking.
And now, I’m starting yet another adventure! Because I’m joining a Taekwondo class! Wait wait wait.. Just how did I end up here?
Well. When I was young(er) I used to love any movie that involved martial arts and there was even a Taekwondo class starting up near my house, but my mom didn’t allow me to take part in it. Since then I have thought about joining different classes like kickboxing or self-defense classes, and when I jokingly told my Korean friend that I would start learning karate, he responded with ‘I won’t allow that! At the very least you have to stay loyal to Korea and choose Taekwondo instead!’ While this too was just a joke, I ended up actually giving it some consideration. Around a week later I actually discovered a club pretty close to me by accident and started to think about it more seriously. I ended up contacting the club and even though I can’t start yet (Transportation is really an issue when you live in the countryside like I do, so I have to wait until I’m finished getting my drivers licence) and there’s no official start-ups around the time where I can start, they allowed me to sign up anyway and then join them as soon as I can. So there you have it. I’m joining a Taekwondo class around the new year!
A Korean friend reminded me of my interest in martial arts and my interest in Korea led me towards Taekwondo. I probably wouldn’t be here at all if it weren’t for my Korean language learning journey.
Who would have known that my life would look this way, today? Let’s all go on more adventures!

Posted in Selfstudy, Uncategorized

CONTEXT PLEASE!

 

I always try to remind myself to learn through context and this is what I do most of the time, but to be honest sometimes it’s just really tempting to find random words to study with. Especially if you don’t really want to study a specific topic but rather wants to expand your general vocabulary. I too have done this many times. It’s not that it’s a bad thing at all, but just try to keep in mind that having a context can make everything a whole lot easier.
Also, when looking up words in your native language to find the Korean equivalent, I always recommend looking at the suggested sample sentences. Often there are tons of words being suggested basted on the word you searched for, but the context can be the thing that determines which of those suggestions to use, and you will only find a context by looking at sample sentences.
I recommend doing the same thing when looking up the Korean word, to find the (in my case at least) English meaning. If you use Naver dictionary like I do, then you will know that it suggests words in a dropdown menu while you are writing the word(just like when you are googling something), and it shows the meaning as well. This mean that you often can find the meaning of the word you are searching for, even before having finished spelling it in the search bar. While this can be a great time saver (that I often take advantage of) it can also create some issues. The words shown in that preview menu is the most common used ones, but if the context isn’t correct then you might find yourself feeling super confused.
Let me give you an example!
I’m currently reading a long article and in the beginning of that article I came across the word 투기, and when searching for the meaning I ended up with this result:

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That didn’t quite make sense to me, however, I was still in the very beginning of the article and there was a handful of other words that I didn’t know, which made it a little difficult to determine whether the word was wrong or if it was just me who didn’t quite understand the meaning of the full sentence. In cases like this I always make a small note in my notebook and then continue reading to give myself a better context.
I continued reading and after a little while I came across the word again. Now, with a better understanding of the context, I knew for sure that ‘speculate’ didn’t make any sense in this context, whatsoever. So I checked with Naver once again. This time I ignored the result from the quick menu and searched for other meanings and sample sentences.

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Now look at the last result.
The article I am reading is about Taekwondo, and with that context as well as the last result in mind, the word 투기 suddenly makes perfect sense. The context literally made the entire difference.
Next time you feel discouraged by not understanding the overall meaning despite looking up all the words, just remember that you might have found the wrong words for your specific context.

Another example could be when I recently read the word 밤(evening, night). 밤 is a word that I have known pretty much since I started studying two years ago, but it simply didn’t fit into the context that I found it in. While I felt really silly to look up the meaning of a word that I thought I knew for sure, I decided to do it anyway and I then discovered that 밤 also means chestnut. Quite a difference, huh? Always remember the context.

Here’s some of the most common words with different meanings that I have come across:
맞다To be correct or To be hit/slapped?
사과Apology or Apple?
Eye or Snow?
Pear or Boat?
Car or Tea?
Words/speech or Horse?

You see what I mean, right? Context can make everything a whole lot easier!